Ask A Teacher: Look, Appear and Seem
Welcome to Ask a Teacher - a new program where readers ask questions and teachers answer them.
Have you noticed that English is full of words that have similar meanings?
In today's Ask a Teacher, Mika from Japan asks how to decide among three verbs that all mean "give an idea about something."
Here is her question:
I don't understand the difference between "look," "appear" and "seem."
If I say, "His new haircut makes him appear younger," is it correct?
Hello Mika and thanks for your question!
You can use "appear" in that situation, but the better verb would be "look."
Let me give you the reasons why.
We use both the verbs "look" and "appear" to talk about a condition we have observed.
In your sentence, you can see with your eyes how stylish the man's new haircut is.
You also see that it gives his face a more youthful shape.
But "look" is more informal than the verb "appear."
Your sentence sounded informal, as if you were talking to a friend.
In contrast, you might see the word "appear" in writing, or hear it in formal speech, such as an official news report.